When a customer presents you with a script that has grammatical errors, missing words, or poorly phrased sentences and the like, do you edit the text to make it more comprehensible for you and the intended audience on behalf of your client?
You may find that a client has unwittingly hired a voice talent and an editor.
We’re out to find out whether or not massaging copy is a service commonly provided by voice over talent.
Read one voice actor’s account and add your views to the conversation.
Your Story Ideas at Work
In December of last year, Paul Plack contacted me with a story idea for the VOX Daily blog, the same story which you are about to read below.
After you’ve read Paul’s story, I invite you to comment with your thoughts. We are both excited to hear your thoughts and think it would be interesting to document what goes on industry wide. All perspectives are welcome.
Massaging Copy : To Do or Not To Do?
Submitted by Paul Plack
I did lots of small voice projects in the 1990s, but have focused on a few big, steady accounts the past few years. Now that I’m actively pursuing smaller projects again, I’m reminded of an issue which can take the joy out of our work – bad writing.
Not surprisingly, I notice this most in the lowest budget tier. I’m not referring here to the radio and TV commercials with copy which doesn’t match the specified length, lacks imagination, contains tongue-twisters or just sells the product poorly. I can cheerfully crank those out like anyone else. I’m talking about grammar or other defects which make it tough to understand the copy, and tougher still to convey meaning to listeners.
In some cases, writers who normally work in print are tasked with turning out copy for spoken-word, and it winds up filled with parentheses, abbreviations, or sentence structure which preclude sounding natural. By the nature of their creative process, talking books often pose this problem. Sometimes, we’re given copy lifted directly from a print ad, and it’s clear nobody has even tried reading the script aloud before sending it out. The worst cases make the reader sound foolish and unprofessional.
I was once given a photocopy of a client’s ad from the yellow pages of the phone book as copy. I saw one request for bids which provided no copy at all, and expected the voice talent to create his own!
I can think of various approaches to this issue. If you’re busy enough to be choosy, you can simply decline to bid. If you’re feeling charitable, you could offer to touch up the copy, at the risk of offending the client.
I recently worked with an international client who doesn’t use English day-to-day. The copy was generally very well done, but used a few figures of speech which sounded a little stiff or forced. I suggested a few changes, and apparently did so with enough tact that the client welcomed the input. But, I ran at least some risk of losing the job, especially since I made the suggestions at the audition stage.
How do we handle this?
Do you feel taking the time to massage copy is an unproductive use of your time? Would you rather risk offending the client, or put out work which doesn’t meet your standards? If you offer such suggestions to clients often, how many clients were alienated, and how many were appreciative?
Do You Have Anything to Add or Say About This?
Looking forward to your reply!